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10 mins

Ginisang Monggo
As a university student on a tight budget in Southeast Asia, I love to get a bargain and find the cheapest possible way to eat. Ginisang Monggo is the Philippines answer to lentil soup. Cheap, easy to make, delicious and extremely nutritious—there is nothing not to like about monggo—except perhaps the way it looks—a sort of mushy vegetable porridge. But while the basic monggo recipe can be a little bland, the secret is to add the bittersweet combo of squash and bitter gourd (ampalaya) or the leaves and top it off with some crispy dried fish (tuyo) or some chicharon bits which add salt and texture to the meal. I grow (ampalaya) in pots on my rooftop in Manila, so while I normally cook the fruit of the plant in pinakbet or with some eggs, I strip the leaves from the old ampalaya plant to go in my Ginisang Monggo, ensuring nothing from the garden goes to waste.

Good for 6–8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

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© 2023 Chris Urbano / Tuttle Publishing · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    Wash the mung beans under running water and remove any stones and impurities that float.

  • Step 2

    In a large pot, transfer the beans and add the water. Let it boil for 20–30 minutes or until the beans are tender and slightly mushy.

  • Step 3

    In a separate pan, heat the oil on medium heat and sauté the garlic, onion and tomatoes for 3–5 minutes or until fragrant. Add the squash and cook until tender.

  • Step 4

    Transfer the mixture to the large pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring to combine the mung beans mush with the mixture well. Season with fish sauce, salt and pepper.

  • Step 5

    Add in the bitter gourd leaves and small dried fish and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving.

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